Some of the most coveted compressor/limiters are simple in circuit design, offer few controls and are intuitive to use. The TC Electronic Triple C compressor is not one of those devices. The Triple C, thanks to its multilevel interface, offers nearly unprecedented control over its operational parameters.
Product PointsApplications: Studio, project studio, postproduction, broadcast
Key Features: Multiband and full-band compressor; single channel or stereo versions available; 1/4″ balanced analog I/O, side chain input, S/PDIF digital I/O on RCA connectors, MIDI in/out/thru.
Price: $699 (single channel) $999 (stereo model)
Contact: TC Electronic at 800-288-5838 805-373-1828; Web Site
The Triple C is available in a single-channel version ($699) – reviewed here – and a stereo ($999) version. The device has two major modes of operation: full band and multiband (three-band) compression. Dependant upon which mode the unit is in, the various knobs and buttons can have multiple or, in some cases, no functionality.
The Triple C is capable of storing 100 user presets in addition to the 50 presets that are loaded into ROM. Users wanting to take advantage of the Triple C’s digital I/O will be happy to know that the Triple C is a 24-bit capable device, although the highest sampling rate available is 48 kHz.
A look-ahead feature is available to provide “predictive” processing control. Use of this feature introduces an additional delay of 3 microseconds in addition to the 1.5 microsecond delay extant when utilizing the unit via analog connection. Processing delay is only 0.1 microseconds when used via the S/PDIF digital I/Os.
One of the coolest features of the Triple C is its envelope mode, which brings synthesizer-type envelope control to any source input to the Triple C. A side chain input is available for external control of the compressor’s operations; it may also be used to link two single-channel Triple Cs together to form a stereo pair.
Starting with the left side, the front panel controls are arranged in sections detailed below.
Input Section: pushbutton power switch; rotary input knob; a large multicolored LCD display. Dynamics Section: multiband switch; rotary threshold knob; Peak/RMS meter switch; rotary ratio knob; softlimit switch; rotary attack knob; look-ahead delay switch; and rotary release knob. Spectral Section: envelope switch; rotary low-band knob; rotary high-band knob. Output Section: makeup gain and bypass switch. The rotary menu control system consists of a menu switch and a dual concentric rotary encoder with a push function on the inner knob.
The back panel provides balanced analog 1/4-inch inputs and outputs, a side chain (or stereo link) input, direct output (utilized for stereo link), S/PDIF digital I/O on RCA connectors, MIDI in/out/thru and a unit bypass jack on a 1/4-inch connector. AC is inputted to the unit via a detachable IEC power cable.
I tried the Triple C out on a variety of sources, both analog and digital. I achieved the best results with digital sources.
In my recording facility, my primary source is a Sony/MCI 2-inch 24 track. Since I usually run BASF 900 Maxima tape, I have the machine aligned to +6 dB, which admittedly is pretty hot. I often like to compress right off of the tape, rather than utilize a channel insert. The Triple C did not like the hot output right off the deck; I achieved better results using the unit on a channel insert where I could control the levels more effectively.
After familiarizing myself with the Triple C’s layered menus and controls, I was able to achieve good results using a wide range of sources and settings. I did note that the control labeling was very difficult to read in low light environments.
Although 1.5 microseconds is not a large amount of processing delay, one must be careful as unwanted phasing can occur with a multi-microphone set up. This was particularly evident when I tried the Triple C on a single drum (kick or snare, for instance) of a carefully miked drum kit.
I like the fact that the Triple C also includes digital I/O. This allows the unit to easily be used in tandem with a variety of other digital devices, including reverb units or as an insert in an audio computer set up. I achieved some unique and interesting results by combining the unit with reverb/delay devices. The envelope-shaping feature is particularly useful for obtaining new textures and effects; great for people into experimental or ambient music.
I found the factory presets to be good starting points for their intended applications. A little tweaking was all it took to zero in on what was required. Ironically, one of my very favorite presets was called “broken compressor,” which simulated a wildly malfunctioning compressor-a very interesting sound.
If you are looking for a compressor capable of some fairly radical and unique processing, the Triple C might be for you. Adding to the unit’s appeal are digital I/O, comprehensive MIDI implementation and in-depth control over many parameters.